45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 3
As part of a Lawyers Club blog series in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, I interviewed Amanda Le. Le serves on the Board of Directors for the San Diego Coalition for Reproductive Justice and she’s employed by the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties as a policy associate. At ACLU, her responsibilities include advancing reproductive justice such as implementation of comprehensive sexual education through the California Healthy Youth Act which became law in January 2016.
Below is a summary of my interview with Ms. Le:
What does "reproductive justice" mean to you?
AL: To me, reproductive justice addresses one’s complete well-being and the ability to exercise complete autonomy over one’s own body. The Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice points out the importance of fighting for (1) the right to have a child; (2) the right not to have a child; and (3) the right to parent the children we have, as well as to control our birthing options. This description resonates with me.
It’s important to emphasize that the human rights framework of today’s reproductive justice movement was founded by women of color for women of color. I give credit to key figures in the movement including Loretta Ross of Sister Song Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective.
How do you think access to reproductive services and the ability to exercise reproductive rights has changed since Roe v. Wade?
AL: Certainly, there’s greater access to reproductive services in California, in terms of availability and legal rights. However, access options can vary depending on affordability, distance to travel, and stigma. For example, denial of critical care at religiously affiliated hospitals is not uncommon. One in six hospital beds in the U.S. is in a facility that complies with Catholic directives prohibiting a range of reproductive health care services.
What would you say is the most needed reproductive service for those who have limited or no access to reproductive services in San Diego?
AL: Oh, that’s hard. I’d say the greatest need is comprehensive sexual health education. It’s essential for people to have medically accurate and unbiased information so as to make healthy decisions. Additionally, it’s important that people know their rights related to their sexual health and accessing reproductive services.
Where do you think the reproductive justice movement is heading – locally, statewide or nationally?
AL: This has been a tough year for the reproductive justice movement. We’ve seen constant attacks on people’s reproductive rights and more. Nevertheless, it’s been heartening to see strong resistance and demonstrations of support from individuals and communities intent on protecting their more vulnerable neighbors.
I’m very inspired to see young people take ownership of reproductive justice issues in innovative and visionary ways. I’ve met students who were politically engaged, passionate, active in their communities, self-aware and confident. I truly believe that allowing more of this work to be informed and led by young people can only benefit the reproductive justice movement.
What are the best ways for attorneys and law students to help the reproductive justice movement?
AL: Law students can educate themselves on California Senate Bill 320, written to expand access to medication abortion at public universities. Currently, no publicly-funded university in California provides their students with medication abortion service. Students seeking early pregnancy termination are unable to access this care on campus, and often must find their way to unknown providers without reliable transportation.
For attorneys: Donate your legal expertise through pro-bono work on cases related to reproductive justice, or volunteer time to a particular campaign. For attorneys with more disposable income than time, the reproductive justice movement welcomes financial support. For example, the National Network of Abortion Funds provides financial support to folks seeking an abortion throughout the country.
Lastly, attorneys and law students can help by sharing their own abortion story or sharing about a time they helped a loved one obtain an abortion. I believe in the power of storytelling to reframe narratives and lessen the stigma of abortion.
Katie R. Aul wrote this for Lawyers Club’s Reproductive Justice Committee and is an associate at Ryan & Associates.